A Confession: This Haunting Drama Deserves a Look

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A Confession is a compelling drama import from the UK that begins airing on streamer Britbox today.

While I gave it a quick nod in our weekly What to Watch suggestions, I'd be remiss if I didn't sing its praises with a bit more substance.

Time and again, I take a stand for dramas (and comedies, come to think of it) from across the pond or down under. A lot of programming foreign to the US is quite good, but it's just easier, with my particular viewing habits, to watch those filmed predominantly in the English language.

Martin Freeman of A Confession

As we're right in the middle of annual upfronts, the stark realization should be hitting some of you that there the pickings will be quite slim well into fall 2021. And, frankly, it's just a guess that we'll finally find a new normal in the entertainment industry that will allow our favorites to return and new shows to get underway.

That means that even those of you who have been loathe to jump onto another streaming service might change your tune just so you get an opportunity to watch timely, new-to-you content.

A Confession is one of those shows that should help weight your decision to give Britbox a try.

The UK excels in crime dramas. Their treatment of the material and the way it unfolds on screen is often done carefully and in great detail. Based on a true story, A Confession airs in six parts, each with a slightly different focus.

Steve Fulcher on the Case

At the core of the drama is Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman), a detective who scuttles his career because he's more interested in putting away a serial killer to bring justice and closure to the victims' families than he is concerned about his good standing in the department.

A family man and wildly good detective, Fulcher leads a team as they painstakingly sift through the evidence and consider suspects through brutal shifts that can often border on the mundane.

But there's something satisfying about stakeouts and knowing their importance. It's not all jokes and coffee; a lot of important work gets accomplished with the finer points of surveillance.

As every detail unfolds, we're alongside not only the detectives and his team but the families and friends of the victims as they sit on pins and needles, hoping to get word of their missing loved ones.

Imelda Staunton on A Confession

When 22-year-old Sian O'Callaghan goes missing, everything that transpires sets off sparks in the mind of Karen, mother to Becky Godden (Imelda Staunton), a woman who has been searching for her missing daughter for about a decade never giving up until she begins to realize that the similarities in the cases might finally lead to a devastating and long-awaited answer about Becky.

Siobhan Finneran plays Sian's mother, Elaine, and in a lesser drama, the similarities between what Elaine and Karen have and are experiencing would bring them together.

But in real life, trauma is never as picturesque as on the screen, and to his vast credit, writer Jeff Pope allows the women to function independently and on the peripheral of each other's lives without giving in to a more Hollywood treatment.

Something else that is much appreciated during this dramatization of real events is that there isn't an undue amount of time trying to shoehorn the victims' loved ones into the role of a murderer as far too often happens across the genre.

A Confession Press Conference

If interviewing those close to the victims makes sense, we get a full understanding of how it happens without any salacious extras.

Because the trauma experienced by everyone in a story like this is plenty dramatic. Families get torn apart from the victims to the investigators to the suspects. Adding to the already dreaded circumstances comes Fulcher's decision to ditch protocol to get a confession that could give two families some peace and get a killer behind bars.

In question are the PACE laws in England, a code of conduct officers follow to ensure suspects are treated fairly and not considered guilty before they have their time in court.

Those protective laws can also unwittingly keep the guilty free and, as in Fulchur's case, ensure the officers who move outside of that framework are tied up in legalities for years.

A Pivotal Decision

What's so fascinating about A Confession is that we get the full picture from the time a victim goes missing to the detective's legal battles well after the case has been "solved," and how everyone gets touched and reacts to the case along the way.

Taking the focus away from the killer and shining a light on the struggles of the victims and families does much to set this drama above slicker Hollywood productions that often for style over substance.

And let's be honest, this cast is some of the best the craft has to offer. Freeman is a multiple awards nominee and winner of an Emmy and a BAFTA, while Staunton also has a long list of nominations and a BAFTA on her shelf.

The cast is dynamic, the writing impeccable, and the story haunting. A Confession shines a light on real-world heroism that often goes unrecognized. Not this time. You'll ache for the parties involved and applaud those willing to go the extra mile for justice.

A Confession will air across three weeks on Britbox with two episodes landing every Tuesday beginning today. Now's the time give Britbox a test drive.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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